Milan 0, Atalanta 3: Turning Point

This game was supposed to be retribution for a soul-crushing Christmas Massacre of just over a year ago from Atalanta. Instead, it was another soul-crushing defeat. Not that it doesn't hurt like hell, not that I am condoning the loss, but it also doesn't hurt to have some perspective. Milan are still top of the table. Officially Winter Champions. What this team has done to accomplish that is nothing short of miraculous. Plus, Atalanta had their best game of the season, while Milan probably played their worst. And we know that the last time we hurt like this, it was the impetus to create this magical run. This isn't a stopping point, it's a turning point.

It was like that, but it was also only one game

Milan started out attacking, for about the first two minutes. Then Atalanta dominated possession and pinned Milan back. It wasn't a surprise, then, when Romero scored from a diving header in the 26th minute. 1-0 Atalanta. Then Ilicic went down in the box in the 37th, but luckily, the foul by Hernandez was committed outside of the box. So although Hernandez got the yellow card, Gigio saved Ilicic's powerful free kick and also the rebound. Ibrahimovic was whistled by Mariani for allowing Gollini to foul him near the end of relegation, and that was the first half.

The second half got worse. A preschool child could have told you that having Meïté as the trequartista made a huge difference in our entire attack, and not for good. Bringing on Brahim Diaz at halftime was a very necessary move for Pioli, and that did actually improve our playing style. Those who wish to blame Pioli, however, need to remember that Calhanoglu would have normally played at that position, but he is currently testing positive for COVID-19. Also, Pioli clearly made the original choice in an effort to counter Atalanta's physicality. The experiment failed, but was not the only reason that Milan lost this match.

The little engine that almost did

In the 49th, Hateboer slammed into Kalulu's back with his hip, and as hard as he tried to continue, Kalulu was stretchered off in the 57th, with Musacchio coming on to replace him. I have to think that Pioli was hoping to give Tomori a few minutes, but having only arrived about 24 hours earlier, over 30 minutes was just too many. If Karma exists, it may have influenced Hateboer's exit to injury ten minutes after Kalulu was stretchered off. This was certainly a very physical match, and Mariani clearly had no intention of being accused of giving Milan any favorable calls.

Kessie got a yellow card and a penalty was awarded to Atalanta for swinging his arm back into the face of Ilicic, who got a bloody nose. Ilicic converted that penalty, even if Gigio went the right way and almost saved it. 2-0 Milan. In the 70th minute, Pioli brought on both Rebic, who had been out 2 weeks with COVID, and Mandzukic, who hasn't played at all in six months. They immediately made an impact, with a Mandzukic shot saved, but still were not enough to turn the game around.

Yes, it was that close

Duvan Zapata's goal in the 77th was just a formality, making it 3-0 Atalanta. However his smacktalk was not as successful. Apparently, during the game, he was making a joke about penalties, and Ibrahimovic reminded him "I've scored more goals than you've played games." Ouch. Speaking of ouch, Brahim had a shot in the 79th that went just over the corner of the goal. Also, Kjaer took a shoulder to the head a minute later, but was able to shake it off and continue. Mandzukic had a weak shot in the final minute of stoppage time that Gollini saved, but that was it. Milan lost. By three goals.

I have never been so grateful to have no fans in the stadium. Fans online were as cancerous and unforgiving as ever, despite social media being the only contact our players have with fans right now. We have seen in the past how Milan fans have damaged the mentality of the team and even pushed players out. Yet after our team has changed so much with such an incredibly successful run of form over this past year, our fans have not. Absolutely disgusting. As I posted on Twitter:

If you get to celebrate when our team smashes records and wins everything, then you also get to suffer your team when they lose.

Not make them suffer more.

People have forgotten what winning is all about.

We will lift each other up and fight again.

Certainly Inter have forgotten what winning is all about. While drawing to relegation-threatened Udinese, Conte was sent off, and he and Oriali verbally attacked the ref, Maresca, in the tunnel after the match. So their performance was worse, and in that terrible performance, they picked up a point on us, but also assured us top of the table status and also the unofficial title of Winter Champions. Tuesday is going to be interesting.

Grateful that this is my coach.

Kessie recently said that the 5-0 defeat to Atalanta in the 2019-20 season was the impetus for this team to create this incredible form we have now. This match will undoubtedly be a turning point for our team. Again. We have Bennacer coming back from injury, three new players to acclimate, and others returning soon, too. I have every confidence that it will be a turning point for the good. Not that we will necessarily win every match or even perform well in every match, but that they will take the lessons learned from this and fight even harder for the rest of the season. Now if only our fans can follow suit, then Milan will truly be back to winning ways again.

This post inspired by the music of The Cure's "Lovesong"

Our next match is
Coppa Italia Quarterfinals
Conte's Hair vs. Milan
Tuesday, January 26 • 20:45 CET (2:45pm EST)

Milan 0, Atalanta 3: Turning Point Milan 0, Atalanta 3: Turning Point Reviewed by Elaine on 4:00 PM Rating: 5
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